St Helena Online

Tag: electricity

Airport vehicle plunges St Helena into darkness (statement added)

Yellow vehicle with catarpillar tracks
Everything’s gone dark: Basil Read’s excavator

Power across most of St Helena was knocked out after an airport construction vehicle apparently brought down a power cable while being moved to Prosperous Bay Plain on Monday evening (3 September).

A bright flash on Deadwood Plain was reported to be visible across the valley at Gordon’s Post.

Power supplies were down across most of the island, including Longwood, Levelwood, Sandy Bay, Alarm Forest, Thompson’s Wood and Blue Hill, from around 7pm to 9.30pm.

An out-of-hours contractor was on the scene quickly but bad weather meant it was not possible to reconnect the cable. Electricity was restored to most of the affected areas by re-routing the supply, but Deadwood remained without power through the night.

The circumstances were being investigated.

Deon de Jager, Basil Read’s island director, issued a statement on 5 September. He said:  

Members of the public will be aware of the plans to take the heavy plant from Ruperts through the access track to Prosperous Bay Plain. All of the relevant health and safety arrangements were in place, for example, banksmen were required to walk the plant through the access track.

“Whilst we at Basil Read pride ourselves on our safety record and achievements, unfortunately accidents do happen.

“The pieces of plant, including the excavator, had reached the top of Pipe Ridge at around dusk. In an effort to contribute to project progress, it was decided to take the excavator a stage further to reach Fox’s Garage.

“At approximately 6.45pm, the excavator accidentally hit a power cable, causing the electricity pole to break off at the base. This caused the power supply to be interrupted, with power only being restored to some areas [on Tuesday].
We are currently reviewing our policies and procedures to minimise the risk of any future incidents.

“Basil Read Management would like to thank the Energy Division, their subcontractor and all those involved in restoring the power supply for their efforts. We would also like to once again apologise to all those affected for any inconvenience caused and we thank you for your patience during the power outage.”

Prison plans in hand as Castle sets out vital projects

Basic designs are being drawn up for moving St Helena’s “unfit” prison out of Jamestown. Planning advice is being sought, according to a spokesman for St Helena Government (SHG).

First, a new unit for young people with challenging behaviour must be built at Half Tree Hollow to make way for the prison to move into the unit’s current home at Sundale.

The prison building is to be taken over – aptly – by SHG’s legal department. The move is not expected before 2015.

The information was provided in response to a question by John Turner of the St Helena Campaign for Freedom of Information, after the government published an outline of various projects that are vital to island life.

The Infrastructure, Utilities and Construction Programme was drawn up with the help of UK advisers after SHG was rebuked for falling behind with maintenance and large-scale projects – partly because of problems finding contractors.

Executive councillors were given a confidential report on progress in early July, but said they wanted the public to be given more information on important works.

Three projects involve energy supplies.

Replacements for ageing equipment at the power station is now being tested, and a trial of photo voltaic cells – to harness the energy of the sun, and reduce the use of diesel – is being evaluated. Approval has been given for six extra wind turbines, and work has begun to appoint a contractor to manage renewable energy projects.

Several projects tackle housing issues:

  • encouraging owners to rent-out empty homes
  • finding sites to build homes for low earners
  • raising living standards in SHG housing
  • improving welfare facilities, and moving Barn View social care residents to the Community Care Complex
  • refurbishing sheltered housing at Longwood and building six new units at Plantation Cape Villa

The first year of the rental project involves identifying the reasons people are reluctant to rent out empty homes, and find ways to overcome them.

Work on government-owned housing involves clearing a backlog of maintenance, as well as converting properties and building new homes.

Infrastructure projects include work on electricity supply, including for the airport, and on developing a sustainable water supply – which includes providing treated water to all island communities.

Upgrades and renovations of the government’s property estate includes work to:

  • clear a backlog of maintenance of government buildings
  • build a new fire station
  • move government departments to free up buildings for the private sector.

No buildings have been let as a result of the government reorganisation in Jamestown, but a spokesman pointed out that the programme was at an early stage.

Another project involves setting up a sustainable system for waste, including recycling, prompted in part by a need to move the existing landfill site near Longwood to avoid causing a hazard to aircraft.

An adviser is currently on the island and a consultation is due soon.

The government is also redeveloping hospital facilities to cope with more residents and visitors, expected once the airport is built.

This includes providing better laboratory facilities for diagnosing medical conditions, and for carrying out tests needed to export processed food.

SEE ALSO:
‘Unfit’ prison to close by 2015 amid human rights failings
£48,000 a year for someone to solve island housing shortage
Government property for sale ‘effectively, now’
Jobs for island contractors after years of under-spending

LINK:
Update on the Infrastructure, Utilities and Construction Programme

Development Assistance Planning Mission
– UK report on SHG infrastructure delays

Extra turbines are in the wind across island (comments added)

Track across Deadwood Plain, passing between turbines
Deadwood Plain (picture: John Grimshaw)

Go-ahead has been given for six new wind turbines to be erected on St Helena – with sites for more being considered on other parts of the island.

St Helena Government says the existing turbines on Deadwood Plain help keep  down the extremely high cost of electricity, which is subsidised at a cost of about £1.5 million a year. Even so, at up to 36 pence a unit, the island rates are thought to be among the highest in the world.

Members of the island’s planning board were briefed about the possible new turbines when deciding whether to allow six extra turbines at Deadwood Plain.

They approved the six, which are to be the same type as those already there.

A second substation will be built to regulate the supply of electricity sent via underground cables to the power station in Rupert’s Valley.

Read Vince Thompson’s report in this Friday’s St Helena Independent

Board members heard investigations were under way to choose sites for more turbines elsewhere on the island, but there was not enough information yet to say what sites might be suitable.

In March, St Helena Government said that the existing turbines had helped save about £250,000 in diesel costs. Without the turbines, it said, electricity would cost an extra 3.3p per unit.

Prices went up from 1 April 2012.

(This story has been updated to correct a statement that further turbines would bring prices down. Though this may be true, its inclusion was an error of interpretation).

COMMENTS:

Why is nobody using wave power there? An island in the middle of the ocean should have some waves.

– Amy DuPrez, via Facebook

Hydro-thermal may be an option too, and is much less unsightly than wave machines or turbines

– Michael Richards, via Facebook

LINK:
Electricity tariffs – St Helena Government press release

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